Acts: Who Can Advance The Gospel ?

May 23, 2021    Pastor Josh Poole

Acts: Who Can Advance The Gospel

Reading through chapters 9-16 this week I recognized a theme!
Religious rulers striving to ignore the work of Jesus
I see persecution
James the brother of John gets beheaded (sons of thunder)
I see the kingdom of God growing and expanding

As I read through all of this: I thought about the sacrifice so many made in order to advance the Kingdom.

James, brother of Jesus: Tells us that life is but a vapor

Until Jesus comes back: it is our great privilege to tell as many people as we can about the good news of who Jesus is!

Today's message title is: Who can advance the Gospel?

The “right people,” then, to promote the advance of the church’s mission are:
Spiritually fruitful,
Morally faithful and
Culturally flexible.

Spiritually fruitful
Acts 15:9-11
He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Peter is practicing the most important commandment:
Love your neighbor as yourself
This is the first time in all of their history that they are viewing NON ISREALITES as their neighbors!
Doing unto others as you would have them do to you!

Peter was working hard to share this message among the people that:
We have all received the Holy Spirit and no longer need to live by the same laws as before
Let me be clear: He is not saying the saw is now bad.
Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it!

He is sharing what the work of Jesus did: Made us righteous by FAITH over WORKS!

Have you ever just wanted something to be hard for someone else because it was hard for you?
Gym example

These religious leaders had been glorified by works their whole life!
Now Jesus has come so that ALL can be saved by faith and not works….

Spiritual fruit does not place unnecessary burdens on each other. Promote bitterness, envy and anger.
It is love, kindness, gentleness
One of the Greatest example of spiritual fruit is loving your neighbor as yourself

We should be ecstatic about lost people being found!!!
The brother of the prodigal son

It takes people producing the fruit of the spirit to advance the Kingdom of God!

Morally faithful
Acts 14:8-18
In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

In this example: being morally faithful meant turning all glory that was pointed at them right back to God!!
Think about the lifestyle they could have had if they accepted the title of Gods!

Being morally faithful means doing the right thing in front of and behind closed doors!
Being morally faithful means saying no to pride and selfishness
It means saying yes to integrity and faithfulness

Can I tell you that being morally faithful is not easy or cheap.

We pay a price to be morally faithful… and we can only do it as we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit!
It may cost you friends or family
It may cost you a shortcut to a life of success
It may cost you your job
It may even cost you your life…. It almost did for Paul

Shortly after this: They stoned Paul!

Acts 14:19-20
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

Just when the devil thought he won:
But when God has a purpose, he is going to give you the strength to get back up!!

Remember your life is but a vapor! Your life is a witness

Culturally flexible.

This one had me scratching my head when I read it!!!

Acts 16:1-5
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.

3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Wait what??

Paul is literally going from city to city telling the religious leaders that things like circumcision is not required for you to be saved!!!

Acts 15:1-2
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.

Acts 15:8-9
God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

So why now is he saying he needed to circumcise Timothy???

Paul circumcised Timothy for the sake of the church’s mission,
in order not to unnecessarily offend the Jews—Timothy would be entering into Jewish synagogues and homes

Culturally flexible does not mean:
I get to live a life of sin because today's culture celebrates it

It means that we will meet people where they are in order to share the gospel with them!

This week let's ask ourselves: Are we
Spiritually Fruitful
Morally Faithful
Culturally Flexible

God we ask that you use us this week!